Adaptability and passion stand out as two things Katja Wiemer mentions when talking about her teaching approach.
An associate psychology professor, Wiemer challenges herself to engage students, inspire them to ask good questions and lead them down a path where each of them will assess the importance of the material they are learning.
“Working with these students is what makes it rewarding. I really love to empower my students,” Wiemer said.
Wiemer joined NIU in 2000 as it began its cognitive sciences program, an area she was very interested in researching and teaching. The university has been the right fit ever since, she says, because of the “wonderful work environment” and her “great colleagues.” But, her impact on students – some of whom have since become professional peers – is what recently earned Wiemer an Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Those who learned in Wiemer’s classrooms explain best why she is so deserving of the recognition.
“I first met Dr. Wiemer when I enrolled in her undergraduate course on perception. The material was complex, and the exams were difficult, but Dr. Wiemer was supportive through the process,” former student Matthew Langley wrote in a nominating letter. “I vividly remember walking out of the classroom admiring the manner in which she expressed the psychological concepts and the patience and poise she employed when the students needed further clarification.”
Giselle Sanroman Gutierrez, president of Psi Chi and the Student Psychological Association, recalled – among other highlights with Wiemer – the honor and excitement she felt after being selected as a freshman to join Wiemer’s research lab.
“I feel confident saying she is one of the most knowledgeable, passionate, approachable and extraordinary professors I have ever had the honor to learn from,” Gutierrez said.
Wiemer described the award as “extremely gratifying” because of who acknowledged her work.
“I was incredibly moved by the things the students said,” Wiemer shared.